If you fly a lot, listen up. This one’s for you. Getting to your seat without getting tangled up with other passengers. Today. On Engineering Works!
It’s happened to all of us. Standing in the aisle of a crowded airliner while some guy ahead of you jams an overstuffed duffel bag into the overhead bin. It takes forever.
Engineers are working on ways to make boarding faster and smoother. Quicker boarding means expensive airplanes spend less time on the ground and more time moving passengers. That means more profits.
Industrial engineers who are studying the problem say the answer could be to change how passengers board. Most airlines now board passengers so those at the rear sit down first. That makes sense, right? Maybe not, say the engineers.
One new approach they came up with keeps the back-to-front plan, but also boards people sitting in window seats early. One airline that’s trying it had a more than 20 percent drop in departure delays. Another boards passengers strictly according to whether they’re sitting in window, middle or aisle seats. That works pretty well, too.
One of the most low-tech approaches to the problem also works pretty well. Southwest Airlines boards passengers according to how early they check in — no reserved seats. You can sit anywhere there’s a seat. Sounds like guaranteed confusion, but it works. Southwest has some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry.
It’s time for us to get our bags and go. See you next time.